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COLLEGE BASKETBALL OPINION: Filling out a bracket isn't easy (3/19)

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By Chuck Jones

One seed, two seed. Red team, blue team.

I would not pick them in a box, I would not pick them with a fox.

My apologies to Dr. Seuss, but my daughter, Lilee, was reading stories to me Monday afternoon and now I have them stuck in my head. It’s distracting trying to write about the NCAA Tournament with rhymes running through my mind.

Not that it would be easy otherwise. Trying to select a champion is nearly impossible. It’s like trying to figure out who Taylor Swift might date next. Getting the field narrowed to the Final Four seems like trying to crack the Da Vinci Code.

Usually there’s not this much trouble filling out a bracket. But every time I’m certain Team A is going to when I hear or read something about Team B. So now convinced Team B is the right choice, I find out Team A has this or that going for it. It’s quite maddening.

Once the bracket comes out, I usually spend my Monday with a pen and bracket in hand ready to work my magic. This year, though, I should use a pencil because I can’t decipher what I’ve written about scribbling and scratching teams out. My bracket looks like the artwork of my son, Samuel.

I’ve heard of people selecting teams based on its color or mascot and this might be the year to do that. But how do you pick against a Hurricane or Cyclone? Those are much scarier than a Cardinal, Hoosier or Buckeye. By that logic, Miami would play Iowa State for the national championship. Blue is the color of choice. Since 2003 when Syracuse won the title, every champion since has had blue as part of its color.

As crazy as this season has been, and it has been entertaining with the constant barrage of upsets. Or at least what those in the know considered upsets at the time. Seven times this season the No. 1 team has been beaten. There was a five-week stretch where there was a different top-ranked team.

It’s become quite apparent there’s a considerable list of teams worthy of winning four games to advance to the Final Four. In recent years, Butler, VCU and George Mason have come seemingly out of nowhere to be one of the four teams standing the final weekend of the season.

While those accomplishments are worthy of celebration, what are the chances of a low seed actually winning the tournament? Not good, considering since sixth-seeded Kansas won the title in 1988, no team seeded  worse than fifth has walked away with the top prize.

There’s been controversy since the bracket was announced about Gonzaga being a No. 1 seed. I don’t have a problem with it. The Bulldogs are very deserving. My trouble is they are ranked No. 1. Since the coaches began voting in the USA TODAY poll in 1993, the final season No. 1 has won the title just four times. That doesn’t bode well for the Zags.

If that’s the case, who will be cutting down the nets in Atlanta?

In the East, using conventional wisdom Indiana would be the pick. But there’s something about Shane Larkin and Miami. Larkin is surrounded by veterans, but the sophomore point guard is the one who makes this team go. Larkin should have his team going to Atlanta in three weeks.

The South’s popular pick is VCU, especially after ESPN analyst Jay Bilas picked the Rams on Sunday night. In January, I might have picked Florida, and last month, I liked Michigan. But it’s going to come down to Georgetown and Kansas with the Jayhawks moving on.

In the West, I have to go with Ohio State, which has played well down the stretch. The Buckeyes are on an eight-game winning streak with six of those against NCAA Tournament teams.

The Midwest bracket appears to be the toughest bracket by far. Top overall seed Louisville, Duke and Michigan State all in the same bracket? Despite how loaded this bracket is, the Cardinals are rolling, winning 10 straight games, and will be back in the Final Four for the second straight year.

It will be Louisville meeting Miami for the title with Coach Rick Pitino getting his second championship.

And the Cardinals sent Pitino home happy. One hundred per cent.

Chuck Jones is the sports editor for The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1759 or cjones@thenewsenterprise.com.